HUDDERSFIELD 24, WIGAN 8
Matt Bowen: ''I just stuck my hand out . . . I don't know what I was thinking there." Photo: Getty Images
Matt Bowen says he's mystified by his own actions in an incident that could rub him out of the World Club Challenge.
An hour into the fullback's debut for Wigan, the 31-year-old took out opposite number Scott Grix without the ball after he had kicked ahead. It's likely Wigan will be in the air, heading to the clash with Sydney Roosters on February 22, when charges are meted out.
"I just stuck my hand out – I don't know what I was thinking there," Bowen said after the surprise 24-8 defeat to last year's Super League minor premiers, Huddersfield.
"I'll just have to sit and wait now. There wasn't much in it, I didn't intend to get him around the chops."
Wigan coach Shaun Wane said he couldn't recall Bowen being involved in a similar incident but rival Paul Anderson commented: "It didn't look good."
The North Queensland icon has been around the world preparing for the WCC, travelling to England to settle into a new home, then to Florida for a training camp, back to England and then back to Australia in a matter of weeks. "Fingers crossed, hopefully no games [suspended]," he said.
If the English champs were already long odds to defeat the Roosters, the bookies would have been reassured by a game that Wigan never led. There was evidence of a revival after half-time when wingers Ian Thornley and Joe Burgess crossed.
But Huddersfield flanker Jermaine McGillvary completed his hat-trick with a horribly soft touchdown in the 53rd minute and before long local fans were performing the famous Wigan walk.
"Massive" was how import Eddie Pettybourne described the necessary improvement over the next two weeks.
Wane compared the performance to one before last year's Challenge Cup final but when asked if his side had been distracted by its looming trip down under, responded: "Absolutely not."
O'Loughlin said he would be back for Wednesday's clash with the New Zealand Warriors at Hamilton's Waikato Stadium while winger Josh Charnley is expected to return from a hernia operation.
Wane said all players in his 27-man travelling squad would get a run before he chose his side to take on the Roosters.
"It's just tough to swallow this one," he said. "I wanted a good performance and a nice flight, but there's going to be no sleep and a sh*t flight."
HUDDERSFIELD 24 (J McGillvary 3 B Ferres S Grix tries D Brough 2 goals) bt WIGAN 8 (I Thornley J Burgess tries) at DW Stadium. Referee: R Silverwood. Crowd: 16,240.